Washington: Chocolate lovers rejoice, as a recent study has found that eating dark chocolate daily can help in boosting brain function and counter the mental effects of sleep deprivation in older adults. Researchers from the University of L'Aquila in Italy suggested that a chemical in chocolate called flavanol can counteract the effects of sleep deprivation and could therefore help people with insomnia.
These effects were, however, most pronounced in older adults with a starting memory decline or other mild brain impairments. Flavanols are natural compounds that boost brain function alongside a range of protective effects and are found in abundance in cocoa beans. The findings suggested that attention, brain processing speed, working memory, and fluency of speech in the elderly can all be improved by a daily dose of flavanol.
"This result suggests the potential of cocoa flavanols to protect cognition in vulnerable populations over time by improving cognitive performance," said study's lead author Dr Valentina Socci. "Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavanols - so we always eat some dark chocolate, every day," Socci added. The team explored what happens to the brain up to a few hours after you eat cocoa flavanols.
They also studied what happens when you sustain a chocolate enriched diet for an extended period of time. The results suggested that women, eating cocoa after a night of total sleep deprivation actually counteracted some of the effects of tiredness.
The researchers say that these results are promising for people that suffer from chronic sleep deprivation or work shifts. The effects of eating cocoa flavanols in the long term - ranging from five days up to 3 months - was mostly been studied in elderly people.
The review found that, for the elderly, brain function is boosted by a daily intake of chocolate. The research is published in journal of Frontiers In Nutrition....